I like this time of year, with its huddling clouds and lack of outdoor expectations; autumn is the most at-peace-with-itself season. It is also the start of hot-chocolate weather. You can make really good hot chocolate by simply breaking your favourite chocolate bar (without bits in) into small pieces and then whisking it into warm milk. I take this further by using chocolate ganache as a base – 100g of 70% chocolate, 75g of milk chocolate and 225g of cream all melted in a bowl atop a pan of simmering water. When done, store in a jar in the fridge and when needed, dollop a large tablespoonful into a pan with some milk, heat and whisk. You don’t need much.
I like my hot chocolate small and punchy - more molten chocolate than milky drink.
My favourites, after weeks of testing, are Misco’s Hot Chocolate Drink; Simón Coll’s Chocolate a la Taza 60% cocoa with vanilla; Hotel Chocolat 50% milky and 70% dark; Zotter’s little bars with adventurous flavours (honey cinnamon/coffee cardamom) for the more outré, and Pump Street’s just launched single-estate 75-85% hot chocolate flakes. I’ve worked out that if you make it at home, 37g of powder/flakes to 250ml of milk is the perfect combination.
Out and about there are two places that I search out for my hot-choc needs: Carluccio’s for its Cioccolata Fiorentina and AG Lifestyle in Suffolk. I’ve heard amazing things about SAID of London’s hot chocolate, but have yet to try it.